Making God Smile: Oneness Among His Children
We meet twice a year. A day and a half every six months.Six couples. Meals together. Catching up. Pictures and stories. Lots of laughter.
Each couple gets about an hour—to share highlights and challenges in life and family and ministry. Then we pray for that couple, thanking God and beseeching Him.
Who are these people?
They are the leaders of six missions focused on ministry to youth:
Denny and Marilyn Rydberg, Young Life.
Mike and Chris Treneer, Navigators. (Chris had to miss because of a family health need.)
Alec and Mary Hill, InterVarsity
Dan and Mary Wolgemuth, Youth for Christ.
Les and Chris Steckel, Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Steve and Judy Douglass, Cru.
We just completed two days together at Thunder Ridge Lodge in Durango, Colorado. It was beautiful, snowy, cool, with extraordinary hosts, Lew and Laura Webb. The meals were amazing, and we even got a demonstration and lessons in bow hunting.
Why do we take time from busy schedules twice each year, missing only for emergency, family, medical reasons? Why is this gathering is a “never miss” one?
Here are a few reasons we repeat many times:
We gain wisdom from each other.
There is safety and understanding in sharing issues unique to leading our missions.
This is where we can talk honestly.
We really help each other in context and perspective.It sharpens our walks with God.
I can’t imagine doing my job without the encouragement and prayer I receive from these men and women.
It’s like a family reunion every time we get together.
The spouses come too. Why?
It helps me be a better partner to my husband in leading our mission.
The women add balance and perspective.We help broaden the focus beyond just the mission to our lives and families.
We encourage each other as we lead beside our husbands.
And so much more.
The gathering has been going on for more than 20 years, with people moving on and new ones joining. These 6 couples have been together for eight years.
We know each other. We know the names and situations of children and grandchildren. We are aware of health challenges. We rejoice with great ministry progress and empathize with difficult decisions. We share ideas and resources and sometimes even people. We learn from each other and encourage each other.
And we pray—for all of the above and more.But here’s the best part: God smiles as He watches. See what Jesus prayed the night before He went to the cross:
I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one--I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)
Too often in the past it was every ministry for itself.
But now, around the world, God’s children are coming together for the Kingdom. Yes, there are different callings, different distinctives, different approaches. And that is true of these six missions.
But this we agree on: That lost young people will be found, introduced to Jesus, discipled into true followers, sent to love and reach their friends and peers. That God will be glorified in our oneness. And that the world will recognize that the Father sent Jesus because of that oneness.
What about you? Where can you grow oneness in your part of the Body of Christ?
C2013 Judy Douglass